Quake Wars: Enemy Territory first seeped into our collective consciousness at last year's E3. Although only available in the form of a brief teaser video, the trailer excited extreme anticipation as we saw human Global Defence Force fighters take on the nefarious Strogg in massively multiplayer battles featuring all manner of vehicles, weaponry and futuristic carnage.
Developed by Splash Damage, the UK developer team behind the admirable Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Quake Wars has gone on to become one of our most wanted online team shooters (it's set to debut before the end of the year although we've nothing more concrete than that right now) and it should provide a serious contender to the likes of EA's all-conquering Battlefield 2 and the forthcoming Unreal Tournament 2007.
High time then to high tail it down to the wilds of Bromley, South London where Spash Damage are located and subject lead designer Paul Wedgwood to a spot of C&VG Stroggification to learn the innermost workings of what Splash Damage are plotting.
Here's what we discovered:
Can we kick off by getting a bit of background on the game - how it came about?
Paul Wedgwood: We'd just finished Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory with id Software and I'd worked through that whole project for a year and a bit with Kevin Cloud from id Software. He was lead designer on Quake 2 and executive producer on Return to Castle Wolfenstein and executive producer on Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and we'd spent a lot of time discussing design ideas and things we'd like to have done in Wolf ET. So in much the same way as Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory came about as a result of the wish list of things that didn't make into Return to Castle Wolfenstein multiplayer, there were ideas for Wolf ET that we really felt would improve the game.
We developed a high concept that was fired back and forth between id and Splash Damage, basically with the goal of a kind of general advancement in team play and technology and then situating it in a universe that was appropriate for the kind of gameplay goals that we had in mind. Because id Software owns the Quake universe and the Enemy Territory universe, it seemed like a perfect match because it gave us the asymmetry we wanted between the two teams which meant that the player would have the choice to fight as a member of a conventional military force or an invading Strogg army with high-tech weaponry.
So what's the story, and how does it fit into the Quake universe as a whole?
Paul Wedgwood: The game focuses on the initial Strogg invasion of Earth which takes place in around 2060 to 2065. In essence you could think of this as Quake 'Zero', as a prequel to Quake 2 and Quake 4. The Strogg arrive via slip-gates on Earth and immediately start invading the planet. They're a malicious and marauding force that's just interested in gathering resources and 'Stroggi-fying' races. The Global Defence Force are a paramilitary organisation that's seen a series of world disasters that have led to poverty and all kinds of problems and have really have become a kind of reactionary force, so they're kind of cobbled together and that's why a lot of their equipment is damaged and knackered and looks like it's in really poor condition.
However, because of the tactics and strategy you can employ, there isn't really the imbalance that you'd expect from an invading alien high-tech force against the humans.
Outside of the universe, what are the key ways in which Quake Wars will differ from the likes of Battlefield 2 and Unreal Tournament?